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Monday, October 2, 2023

Letters to the Editor


Re: Rekindling the 3 or 5 years debate
Dear editor,
The country can’t afford a fourth electoral circle within a span of three years. That is opportunity cost worth investing in other needy areas. Nevertheless, I think Barrow being the flagbearer of that coalition has two viable options:
1. Initiate a new round of roundtable discussions with all the founding parties of the coalition to sought ways for extending the three-year agreement to five years in accordance with the constitution.
2. If the above negotiation should fail, the decision is then for him to honour his pledge and resign and let the vice president complete this term. Or ignore the negative outcome of the coalition-party dialogue and continue the term to the end. Both decisions carry political consequences!
Kemo Kinteh
[email protected]


Lesson from Mali
Dear editor,
Mali. 11 women ministers in a cabinet of 33. And a new, 35-year-old foreign minister (the first female foreign minister in Mali’s history). This is something to cheer about. Foreign Minister Kamissa Camara had stints as senior programme officer for West and Central Africa at the National Endowment for Democracy in Washington, DC, instructor at the US Foreign Service and until her recent appointment, as foreign policy adviser to the Malian President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita.

Last year Ms Camara wrote about The Gambia’s transition from a dictatorship to a democracy in the World Politics Review. “After helping solve The Gambia’s political crisis, Senegal needs an exit strategy,” she writes.
One of her female colleagues is Hawa Baba Ba, the minister for mines. Ms Ba, until her appointment, led the National Directorate of Geology and Mines in Mali. (Mali has the third highest gold production in Africa after South Africa and Ghana.)
May be The Gambia can learn a thing or two here. Let’s see: more women in the cabinet, cabinet appointments in lieu of experience and a skills set relevant to the job and, are you ready for this, giving chance to the young in cabinet leadership. The Gambian cabinet is not just meant for old people.
Cherno Baba Jallow
New York

The blame game
Dear editor,
Quite often, the game of blaming the Gambian electorate and the National Assembly for voting for the wrong MPs and the National Assembly not holding the government to account has become a feature of our democracy. The so-called educated and competent class of Gambians never take a hard look at themselves to reflect on where they have failed the country in not actively engaging in the political process to hold the government’s feet to fire to deliver for the people.

Without the active engagement of the national institutions and the so called educated and competent crop of Gambians, our democracy will continue to fail to deliver an economy that works for the majority of Gambians. The charge for the necessity of a technocrat government in The Gambia is about the lack of competence and the quality of the MPs in the National Assembly.

But where is the competence and the quality of the “technocrats” in speaking out against the abuse of power and the incompetence of previous governments? For example, where is the representation from the so-called educated and competent Gambians about President Barrow having to uphold the Coalition Agreement of 2016?
Not a single so-called educated and competent Gambian has spoken out for the need for the Barrow government to uphold the coalition agreement upon which he campaigned. Have they been snookered by the unintelligent take of Ousainu Darboe on the Coalition Agreement?
It’s only the dismissed politicians from the government who have raised their voices for the coalition agreement to be upheld. Anytime one mentions the need for the introduction of a parliamentary democracy in The Gambia, the bogus criticism of that system always comes from the so-called educated and competent Gambians.

The reason is simple. They want to exercise political authority over the people and enjoy the benefits that go along with occupying top public positions without having to do any of the heavy lifting associated with politics and holding the government to account. They want to have their plate already prepared on the table. It doesn’t work like that in politics.

There’s no point in creating layer after layer of bureaucracy wasting public money on ridiculous salaries and expenses when we can cut out the crap and let the politicians be in charge of running the country. As is the case with putting unelected private individuals running the affairs of the state, the Barrow government is more overwhelmed with processes and procedures instead of concentrating on economic development and improving the living standards of the people.

Every other day, the Barrow government comes out with new policy initiatives that only add another layer of bureaucracy on to the already bloated gravy train of the government. Where are the policies that will provide public services and to improve the living standards of the people?
The Barrow government is obsessed with countless processes and procedures but not big on economic investment that’ll develop the economy and improve the living standards of the people. I suspect that won’t be the case when the elected politicians are in charge of running the country. The blame game is a distraction. The Gambia is a democracy and let’s put our politicians in charge of running the country. That’ll save us a lot of money that could be better spent on the economic development of the country.

If the technocrats want to live in a country whose politics deliver an economy that works for the people and protect our political freedoms, let them be part and parcel of the political process. That’s the only way to improve our democratic dispensation.
No one should expect the ordinary people to do the political dragon slaying for the so-called educated and competent waste of spaces to enjoy the fruits of the struggle of the common people. If common Gambians are strong enough to fight off a dictatorship, they have the capacity to manage the affairs of the state. We don’t want a class of trained fools in charge of running the country.
People who only know how to cut and paste IMF policies but will never take part in the political process or say anything that is remotely critical of the government.

Yusupha ‘Major’ Bojang

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